It’s Twiffidy’s turn for a nice little vacation and in her absence, we present the debut of a NEW Hunger Games blogger! ..Well, Satsuma here is a guest blogger, but she know her stuff!
Satsuma has got some strong, insightful opinions for all you readers who think the film should simply be fan service. Read and be enlightened!
Well, if the VV admins accept this post, then I guess I might be starting off my official THG blogging career by ticking off many of my readers. But hopefully I’ll make you think a little.
I actually have two major points in this post. One is, as the title states, The Movies Are Not Made for You. The other is, as a related point, really, The Movies Are Not Books On Tape with Pictures.
Okay, back to The Movies Are Not Made for You. What do I mean? I mean, that the lovely producers, directors, screenwriters, casting coordinators, etc. that are in charge of creating the movies do NOT have you in mind when deciding who to cast, what scenes and dialogue to include, etc. They are NOT interested in who you, personally, dream about at night playing Finnick Odair, or what dialogue you’ve memorized so well that you can repeat it in your sleep. Or what costumes you might have doodled on a piece of lined, 8 1/2″ x 11″ paper when you’re supposed to be taking notes in class or in some business meeting. And so, if they don’t grant your every wish when it comes to the CF movie, they are NOT trying to make you cry and stomp your feet. Or throw the eventual Blu-Ray/DVD of the movie across your living room.
I can predict, for example, that CF is not going to have Peeta trip on a ice cube, fall down the stairs, and sustain a compound fracture of his left leg requiring amputation. Movie!Peeta is, officially, NOT bereft of any limbs, and this is NOT meant to be a personal insult to you. Also, I find this common complaint extremely ironic, and almost hypocritical, in light of the many examples of THG fanart I’ve seen that shows post-THG Peeta with either the most realistic-looking prosthesis ever invented, or with legs that are both composed of flesh and blood. I can also predict that, quite likely, the Avox story will NEVER make it into the movies. Well, at least, the CF movie. MJ being two movies, might give them room to slip them in. But again, if the introduction of the Avoxes is delayed until then, that’s not meant as a diabolical plan to make you pace the floor in frustrated anticipation.
Now, does this mean that I think there’s no point in discussing what we either wanted in the THG movie, or hope to see in the CF movie? No, not at all, and I’d be a hypocrite if I said that. I’ve made my displeasure at parts of THG, as well as hopes for what I want to see (or don’t want to see) in the CF movie, known on both Victor’s Village and other fansites. But at the end of the day, do I let thoughts of memorable Peeta lines that I wish, really wish, were included in the movie, keep me tossing and turning at night, unable to sleep? No. (My next-door neighbor’s stereo system, on the other hand…) That’s because I realize that in the end, I really shouldn’t let decisions made by people who live hundreds of miles from me, some of whom make hundred times the money I do, and who have likely had hundreds of people already tell them what they want from the movie, even though it’s impossible to meet every single one of their demands, actually cause me angst and agitation. Well, not beyond a few minutes worth, anyway.
The corollary to my premise, that movie-makers really aren’t trying to either fulfill every personal fantasy of every Hunger Games fan regarding casting, screenwriting, and directing, OR deliberately frustrate such fantasies, is that many of the differences between the books and the movies are simply due to there being, you know, a difference between a book and a movie. Some of the comments I’ve noticed, really make me wonder, do fans of this franchise want to see a movie, or a book-on-tape with cool pictures?
There is simply no way a movie with a run time of, say, two hours and 30 minutes, can include everything from a 400-page book. Not even TWO movies with run times of two hours and 30 minutes each. Yes, I even anticipate there will be some actual CUTS (oh, the humanity), made to the Mockingjay story; such as, I really don’t expect to see every single Katniss nightmare shown in agonizing detail. No way can a movie include every single syllable of dialogue, every single scene, even every single character from a book. (I know, the HUMANITY, again.) And, you know, there is much more to a successful movie adaptation, than exactly how many check boxes the avid THG fans can check off while using the light from their cell phones to follow along in the book they brought in with the popcorn, while scribbling notations in the margins to capture every supposed inconsistency.
I’m assuming most of you have seen actual movies that were based on original concepts and screenplays, not adaptations of books, cartoons, cancelled TV shows, or black-and-white old movie. (I know, such movies seem to be getting scarcer by the day, but they’re not completely extinct yet!) And the truth is that IS a difference between showing something in a visual medium, without a constant stream of words providing continuous narration, and reading a book that relies on words, not pictures. For example, the lack of Katniss voice-over in THG, which some people have criticized. But let’s take the scene where Katniss finds out that Peeta is with the Career Pack. In the book, she goes into bitter, angry detail about how she thinks he was just playing another game with her with his noble statements on the rooftop, and details her wish to see his face in the sky. Which, you know, is the same as wishing him dead.
So, let’s say that the screenwriters decide to have J-Law narrate a voice-over of this. Well, if we have her just sitting in a tree glaring down at the Careers while this voice-over unfolds, that’s probably at least a minute we devote to just this voice-over. As opposed to, you know, actual advancement of the story. In a 2hr 40 min, or 160 min, movie, one minute is 1/160th of the time. Which is the same, proportionally, as almost 3 pages of a 400 page book. Much more than the original few paragraphs. Now, I’m not saying voice-over should be completely banned, but overuse of it will turn a movie into, as I mentioned before, simply a book-on-tape with pretty pictures.
Suzanne Collins herself has stated that she sees the movies as *complementing* the books, not simply *complimenting* them with a sluggish word-by-word carbon copy of an adaptation. And the THG movie, while it deprived us of some parts of the book, such as Katniss’s narration, also showed us parts of Panem that we didn’t get to see (or, okay visualize, unless you’re withdrawing from white liquor, I hope you didn’t actually SEE scenes from a fictional book come to life in front of you). Such as the actual Game control room, Snow’s reaction, the D11 riot, and the ironic fate of Seneca Crane. Did I find it perfect? No. The lack of signature Bread Boy lines really does bother me, even if it doesn’t deprive me of beauty sleep. Mostly because Movie!Peeta winds up being such a different character, really, than Book!Peeta, much more than how Movie!Katniss is different from Book!Katniss. And I’m not talking about their eye color, or how “built” either of them are.
But that’s really more a complaint about something I see part of the essence of the book. And I guess I didn’t find the existence of Madge Undersee, the pronouncement of Effie Trinket’s name, or the mention of what you’re called after the Capitol cuts out your tongue for being a traitor, to be essential to the story. And I found enough of the essence of the tale to be present, that I really did find the movie to be a great ADAPTATION of the book. (Not perfect, but I also realize that a movie I saw as perfect would likely be horrible to at least a dozen other people.) I hope for the same for Catching Fire.
Again, I don’t mean to suggest that people should stop discussing issues of what they liked/didn’t like about THG, and what they hope/expect for CF (okay, to be exact, THG:CF). Just that, maybe, some of us might enjoy this ride a little more if we stopped taking things so personally, and realized that no book-to-movie adaptation is going to be a complete replica in terms of dialogue, character presentation, and overall story-line. And that taking a check-list approach to the movies is going to result in a much more diminished experience, than, well, to try to see it as a movie first, and as a book adaptation second.
Just a thought,